We’re a 50/50 split between dog-people and cat-people here at AMM, but one thing that we all agree on is that there is most definitely a place for pets in wedding ceremonies. If you’re a pet person, your partner probably already knows that your fur baby is part of the package deal. Pets are an important part of your life, so it makes sense that they would have a role in your wedding day. (Plus, you know the photos will be adorable...)
But weddings can be loud, disorienting, and distracting, especially for your pup, so it’s important to prepare properly.
We asked around the office, and the following tips represent the combined both pet-ownership and wedding ceremony planning experience of the staff here at AMM.
Pets are unpredictable, but that’s partly why we love them so much. If making your pet a part of the ceremony is important to you, be sure to clue in your officiant as early as possible and let them know! Whether they're a seasoned pro or a friend, they will need just as much of a chance to plan and prepare accordingly for the most successful, pet-inclusive ceremony possible. Our advice is to plan for something unexpected to happen, and then just have fun. If your pooch is going to be the ring bearer, watch out for squirrels, and just make sure he's on a leash. You don’t want to have the guests scrambling after your pet at any time during the day, especially during the ceremony. ...of course, that same unpredictability is half of the fun, so don’t get stressed if it doesn't all go exactly as anticipated!
If your cat doesn’t come when you call her at home, she probably won’t listen to you just because it’s your big day. (After all, she’s not a bridesmaid.) That’s why it’s so important to be realistic about what to expect, and what to aim for. If your kitty isn’t particularly sociable or well behaved on any regular day, perhaps it’s better to just include her in the wedding photos and opt to leave her at home.
You want your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, which is why it’s important to make sure that people who are afraid of certain animals, or perhaps allergic, are taken into consideration. That doesn’t mean your puppy should not be included, it just means that your guests should be able to know in advance so that they can avoid an aisle seat - and/or take their antihistamines for the event.
Here’s another thing to consider: is your pet good around people? A dog that jumps up on guests will not be appreciated. If your dog has a tendency to behave in this way, teach him an alternative way of showing his excitement, such as greeting people by giving his paw rather than jumping around. Remember, it’s going to be a very exciting experience for your pet and if his excitement level is too high, he may be unable to control his impulses — in which case, make sure that he is leashed and controlled at all times.
This one is pretty simple, but a quick call or email in advance can prevent absolute heartbreak - and a scramble to change the ceremony at the last minute. The reality is that many municipal codes restrict the access of pets to venues where food is being served, and many private venues implement their own restrictions. If you are determined to have a dog or cat-friendly wedding, make sure that your facility and the rental agreement allow for it.
Weddings -- especially outdoor ones in the summer -- can be long and hot affairs, so make sure your pooch is well-fed, hydrated, and generally well taken care of at all times. Since you’re going to be busy, well, getting married, that means you will want to arrange for a friend or family member to be responsible for pet-sitting duties. Remember, when the big day comes the last thing you want is to scramble for a poop bag in your wedding gown (or worse - acquire fresh scratch marks just in time for photos).
Including pets in weddings is a growing trend, and one that we strongly support! Just work closely and plan ahead with your officiant, guests, and venue(s), and then enjoy your wedding day with all of the folks you love -- even the furry, four-legged ones.